Last summer 2019 I spent an afternoon in the famous Western half of Highgate cemetery in North London. I was able to explore some of the hidden corners of this huge rambling place. During the 1970’s and 80’s the cemetery suffered some neglect and many parts became overgrown.
The situation now is quite different, although it is obvious that the cemetery is closely managed, a balance between creating a sustainable environment while retaining the magical mystery of the place has been very successful. The cemetery is consequently in demand as a location for filming. One notable film appearance recently was in the feature film “Fantastic Beasts” The JK Rowling Harry Potter spin off starring Eddie Redmaine.
I had the SIGMA sd Quattro H with the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art lens, I didn’t want to be restricted with a tripod so everything was hand held, the inbuilt lens stabilization helped with this. I kept the ISO at 100 only occasionally pushing to ISO 200. The Foveon sensor produces amazingly detailed and satisfying images but does not like to be pushed above ISO 200. I was very fortunate on the day with the sun in and out between the clouds, this gave me the option of a diffuse light or strong sunlight, which created inky black shadows. I enjoyed playing with the sunlight, letting it create dramatic scenes, this worked particularly well with the images taken in the Circle of Lebanon with it’s Egyptian and classical inspired architecture. Sadly, the Huge Cedar of Lebanon tree that gave this section of the cemetery its name had to be felled in 2019 due to disease.
I mainly concentrated on using black and white to convey the mystery of the location, enabling the in camera red filter setting to increase the contrast. The combination of this and the strong sunlight really brought out the textures in the Victorian stonework. Here is a selection of photographs from my afternoon at the cemetery. I have kept the final images in the native ratio crop from the SIGMA sd Quattro H.